Smart Money, Smart Kids (Part 2)
"Work creates discipline and when you have discipline in your life, you are a healthier person." - Rachel Cruze
Saturdays begin in our home like they do in most of yours, with a little Saturday morning TV. And what comes next is probably fairly similar to most other houses as well. Around 10 AM every Saturday, it becomes chore time.
But that may be where the similarity ends. Because we don't MAKE our kids to their chores. They CHOOSE to do their chores or they choose NOT to do their chores. No, we're not some sort of progressive parents who let the kids rule in our home. We are parents who are purposefully teaching our children financial concepts that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The work /payday system that we implement in our house with our kids is adapted from what Dave Ramsey has taught for years out of his Financial Peace University and from his many books. And on April 22, Dave and his daughter, Rachel Cruze, are releasing their brand new book, Smart Money, Smart Kids which goes into detail about how to raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world.
Chapter 2 of SMSK is all about putting your kids to work. After explaining the Ramsey way of doing commissions instead of allowances, Rachel and Dave give several stories about what this looked like for the Ramsey kids. Then they give details on how you can implement this system in your house. If you want more details, you'll have to read the book! You can pre-order it on the Smart Money, Smart Kids website. If you do, you get all sorts of freebies like the free audiobook and the free e-book version of the book. If you want to look before you buy, be sure to visit the site and scroll down to the bottom where you can download the first 2 chapters of the book absolutely free.
So you can see how this chore/payday system might play out in your house, I'll show you what it looks like in our house.
Every year, on their birthdays, we assign our children with their chores for the year. They have 2 less chores than their age (for example, my daughter is 10 so she has 8 chores to do a week). We have chosen to assign chores that just have to do be done once a week. I make up a new chore chart every year and put it on the fridge. When the kids do their chore for the week, they put a magnet on the chart. Every Saturday night is "payday" in our house. My husband and I count the magnets under each child's name and they get $1 for each chore they have chosen to do. Then we take all the magnets off and start over for the next week. Our kids know that if they choose to do no chores, then they will get no money that week.
When choosing which chores to assign to our children, we kept some things in mind. Of course, we kept in mind their ages and what chores they could and could not physically do. For instance, our vacuum is fairly heavy, so we waited to assign vacuuming as a chore until our children were old enough to actually be able to push it. Second, we don't want our children to think that they should get paid for every little thing they do. So chores that are daily occurrences are expected to be done without a payday attached to them. Everyone is expected to help set the table for dinner, to take their dishes to the dishwasher after dinner and to straighten up the living room and the den, just to name a few. Lastly, I want my children to one day leave my house knowing how to take care of a house of their own. Yes, even the boy! Keeping that in mind, I assign my children chores that teach them some essential household skill. For example, both of our children started doing their own laundry at age 8. It's not that I really mind doing their laundry for them, but when they leave for college, I want them to have laundry down pat.
If our children really hate a chore, they can petition to have it changed. They have to have tried doing it for a couple of months first. Then they have to give us 3 good reasons why they shouldn't have to do that chore and they have to give us a suggestion for a chore to do in it's place. Sometimes, when they have done this, we have chosen to switch out a chore and sometimes we haven't. Just before their birthdays (and the annual reassigning of chores) the kids can give us a list of chore suggestions that they would like. However, Mommy and Daddy always have the final say in the which chores are assigned for the year.
In case you are wondering what sorts of things we make our kids do, I'll give you the list of chores they are currently doing. My 10 year old daughter's 8 weekly chores are: empty all the trashcans in the house, clean the master bathroom toilet, straighten her bedroom, vacuum her bedroom, clean her sink, wash/dry her clothes, fold/put away her clothes, and fix 1 meal (with plenty of parental supervision!). My 8 year old son's 6 weekly chores are: wash/dry his clothes, fold/put away his clothes, clean the hall bathroom toilet, straighten his bedroom, vacuum his bedroom, and take recyclables down to the garage.
We have been using this system for about 5 years now. Our kids are 10 and 8 now and we started each of them on the chore/payday system on their 5th birthday. It has worked really well for us. Our children know that we don't just give them money to buy things. Of course we provide for all their needs - food, clothes, school expenses. We just don't supply all their wants. That's what they are earning money for.
This system has worked really well for us. If you are interested in giving your children a payday (or commission as Dave and Rachel call it) instead of an allowance, be sure to pre-order a copy of Smart Money, Smart Kids and get all the details.
Next kids/money post - teaching children to spend, save and give.